The big buyout
The biggest news this past week has been word of Funimation being purchased by Sony. Most everyone I know, especially the industry experts, are struggling to parse the significance of this. My take is that it's a way for Sony to get a quick subscriber list and product stream, as they've been struggling to make a dent in the streaming market by way of the Crackle service — and for Funimation to have that many more potential eyeballs by way of Sony's distribution mechanisms (including the PS4).
What with the streaming market slowly starting to splinter along the lines of boutique or even bespoke content for increasingly vertical audiences, it makes sense to plant a stake where some growing audience already is.
Next year's Netflix
The other major news this week revolved around Netflix upping its own anime game, with an absolute buttload (that's a technical term, mind you) of new titles slated for 2018. To wit:
- Cannon Busters
- Devilman Crybaby
- B: The Beginning
- Sword Gai: The Animation
- A.I.C.O. Incarnation
- Lost Song
- Rilakkuma Series
- Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya
- Children of the Whales
Of the bunch, Devilman Crybaby caught my ear and then my eye in rapid succession when it was revealed that director Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, The Tatami Galaxy, Ping Pong) had chaired that one up and brought his trademark psychedelic look to the goings-on. There's been some intriguing Devilman titles on Netflix, including a Cyborg 009 crossover I understand is quite good, and so this seems like my spur to dig deeper into that vein.
Children Of The Whales also looks interesting, along with B: The Beginning. Zodiac is massive popular outside the U.S., so maybe a newly minted series (this is essentially a remake that more closely follows the original manga) will finally give it the audience here it never quite found. Lost Song has been teased for some time now, with a few gorgeous pieces of key art and a ... I hate to use the term, but here we go ... Ghibli-esque summary. Chalk it into the "maybe" column for me.
Finally, against all odds, I also find myself drawn in by the Godzilla series — it's from Polygon Pictures (Knights of Sidonia, BLAME!, A-JIN), so I automatically have a level of investment thanks to their presentation and polish. But apparently there's more than just a pretty face here.
Side note: Another season of Sidonia and another BLAME! project are apparently in the works from Polygon.
He's a death metal zombie cop, for (kick)starters
If you don't know Felipe Smith, go grab all three volumes of Peepo Choo (I should revise my earlier piece about that masterwork and post it here). Now go to Kickstarter and throw the guy some cash to get his new project off the ground, with the wonderfully promising title of Death Metal Zombie Cop. It's already pretty close to being funded, but that shouldn't be a reason to hold back if either Smith's rep or the broad outlines of this project light your fires. My hope is Smith brings the same kind of yank-out-the-rug subversion to this story that he did to Choo, and doesn't just make it a walk-through of genre talking (or in this case, screaming) points.
Thunderbolt Fantasy rocketed to the top of my list of best things in 2016, and I was double elated to find out we had spinoff material in the works. Some more details have emerged; the first spinoff project involves the Screaming Phoenix Killer (god, I love those names).
The play's the thing
Stage play adaptations of anime and manga properties are popping up as fast as their live-action movie counterparts. Amazon has apparently picked up streaming rights to one such performance, a play derived from the Blood:C franchise. I'm not so much interested in this particular title as I am in the idea of providing streams of stage-play renditions of anime/manga adaptations generally. It's along the lines of what Fathom Entertainment does for opera (they book screenings of opera performances in movie theaters), but for an even more niche audience. Although, at this rate, maybe it's opera that will end up being the real niche.